Color Label Solutions

Color Label Solutions

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Label Expo 2018

Last week, I attended Label Expo 2018 in Rosemont, IL (  and saw 3, relatively new, label printer ideas that I wanted to share with you.

First, Neuralabel introduced their newly available, straight paper path version of the 300x.

Straight Paper-Path 300x
Straight Paper-Path 300x

With this version, the paper path changes from having 3 turns to straight through.  In the previous version, labels may pre-dispense (come off the liner) and get stuck inside.  If the label was synthetic so it would not rip, no big deal.  If the label was paper, it was almost impossible to remove the shredded label.  This change makes the 300x much more usable.  Watch it print fanfold labels here:

(FYI: you may notice the paper path is opposite from the previous version as well).

In addition, Neuralabel has developed a very unique solution for fixing plugged inkjet nozzles: cleaning solutions:

300x Inkjet Nozzle Cleaning Solution
300x Inkjet Nozzle Cleaning Solution
According to Neuralabel, the cleaning solution can fix simple plugged nozzles.  Having dealt with this issue many times in the past, I think this simple solution is a great idea.  It could cure a major portion of the service calls around inkjet label printers. 

The new straight paper path 300x offers high resolution, and very fast printing.  And the new 300x does not require the operator to move the printer when changing print widths.  This printer costs about $10,000, and still requires blackmarks on the labels (no gap sensor).  Further, I still have concerns about printing full-bleed as it requires .25” gaps.

I see the 300x as a good option for chemical companies wanting to upgrade the print quality and speed of their GHS label printers.

Second, I saw again the latest prototype of the Okidata LED-based label printer.

QL-300 LED Label Printer
QL-300 LED Label Printer
Okidata has selected AstroNova to sell this printer in North America; and will sell it under the model number QL-300. 

Okidata has solved some of the key issues with LED/laser printers with this new technology:  Wasted labels on every print job, large label minimum widths and lengths and color registration.  With this printer, you can print down to a 4” minimum batch length with down to .5” minimum label length.  And it prints down to a 1” minimum width.

QL-300 LED Label Printer
QL-300 LED Label Printer
But the big reason to use this new printer is the availability of white toner, matte black color and the ability to print various materials including foil labels.  White toner, deep blacks and good results on foils, clear films and vinyl will make this new printer fit many customers. 

Silver Foil and Clear Film Printed on the QL-300
Silver Foil and Clear Film Printed on the QL-300
AstroNova has yet to announce the price of the printer, but has said the toner cost per label will be comparable to existing inkjet. I still need to test to insure the actual results match the claims; and I hope to get one in the 1st quarter of 2019.

Finally, I got the chance to study the Trojan T2C, the first available “Mini-Press”.

T2C Mini Press
T2C Mini Press
During this deep dive, I learned three key aspects of this Memjet-based press.  First, the printer has only one consumable item in addition to the ink: a cleaning roller.  It makes this version of Memjet printers easier to maintain.

Second, the T2C uses 8 liters of ink:

T2C 8 Liters Ink
T2C Uses 8 Liters of Ink
That’s a lot of ink and labels; and a lower ink cost than most other on-demand color label printers.  It may be the lowest ink cost per label!

Third, I found the new Niagara ink from Memjet, Purell resistant:

Purell Resistant Memjet Ink
Purell Resistant Memjet Ink
In addition, I tested the ink once I returned with 70% IPA on gloss paper.  And it withstood the IPA fairly well.  After soaking for about 1 hour, the ink did smear slightly.  No bad for paper and dye-based inks; and a big deal for companies needing alcohol resistance on their labels.

Alcohol Durable, Dye-Based Memjet Ink
Alcohol Durable, Dye-Based Memjet Ink
The T2C costs about $30,000; therefore, this printer is designed for companies printing thousands per batch.  You can pay $40,000 and save about 33% on all future ink purchases as another option.

After Label Expo 2017, I wrote about the T2C and the Okidata LED printer:

And here is the summary of Label Expo 2016:

And Label Expo 2014:

And Label Expo 2012 #1:

And Label Expo 2012 #2:

Things have changed in the last 6 years.  Some printers have hit it big; and other not so much.

Let me know if any of these ideas presented in this summary of Label Expo 2018 could fit your business.  Look forward to hearing your feedback.

Guy Mikel

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Holy Grail

For a long time, I’ve been searching for the holy grail of on-demand color label printing; and I think I’ve found it.

Not the famed cup; rather alcohol resistant gloss label media.  And I use the word “media” as it’s more than a gloss synthetic, rather others as well.  Let me tell you what I’ve found.

First, water and alcohol resistant Gloss Poly.

Alcohol-Resistant Gloss Poly
C7500G Alcohol-Resistant Gloss Poly
I received this week, a few 8.5” x 11” samples of a new gloss poly label which should become available next month.  I printed not only the samples using the C7500G (see above-I thought they printed great), but also tested them in water.

Water Resistant Gloss Poly
Water Resistant Gloss Poly

After running them in water, I tried to rub off the ink; and found no smudging.  Currently, we have splash resistant gloss poly; but not bullet-proof water-resistant gloss poly.  This material seemed to perform better.

In addition, I poured 50% IPA on the gloss poly; and found none of the ink came off:

Gloss Poly with Alcohol
Gloss Poly with IPA/Alcohol

These results are exciting to me.  After testing probably 50 to 100 different gloss poly materials, I think I found a material that is actually resistant to alcohol.  I’m sure that if you rubbed the material sufficiently hard, you may get different results.  But this version of the material appears much more resistant to alcohol.

This new gloss poly should work well in applications such as medical devices and GHS where alcohol resistance is required.  In addition, the material should work well in applications with liquids where more durable water resistance is required.  This new label should help many different companies.

In addition to the gloss white synthetic labels, I tested a new clear film label:

C7500G Printed Clear Film
C7500G Printed Clear Film
I thought this new material printed great!  In addition, this material seemed water proof as the ink did not smudge after soaking for some time:

Water-Resistant Clear Film
Water-Resistant Clear Film
And this material was resistant to 50% IPA as well:

Alcohol-Resistant Clear Film
Alcohol-Resistant Clear Film

The alcohol made the material curl, but the ink would not come off with easy rubbing.  Again, I can imagine that this material would not resist all attempts to remove the ink; but the initial tests are very encouraging.

This new clear film would seem to fit applications where a more durable clear film is required; beverages, devices and even some chemicals.

Finally, I tested an inkjet coated silver which is another material we searched for over the years.  We did sell some silver, but it was expensive and the ink came off easily in water and alcohol.

Not only did this silver film print great,

Inkjet Coated Silver Film

 But the material was water resistant:

Water-Resistant Silver Film
And 50% IPA resistant as well:

IPA Resistant Silver Film
IPA Resistant Silver Film

As my IPA tests do not follow a specific protocol (I basically poured IPA on them and rubbed), you may see different results.  But I’m encouraged by what results I did achieve.
Silver film should fit higher value markets: such as cannabis and cosmetics.  It’s a great new material to utilize.

As background, I printed each of these labels using a C7500G given all three of these materials had a glossy finish.  C3500 and other pigment color label printers may have slightly different findings.  Once I get more materials, I’ll test them using dye-based inks as well.

Based on my discussions with the manufacturers, these new materials should be available next month.  I hope to start selling them shortly.

One potential watchout: I don’t have pricing as yet.  As with all new products, these labels could be expensive.  So we’ll need to compare how our existing gloss, film and silver labels compare both in terms of performance and cost for each of our customers.

I think these results are a big deal.  It’s not the holy grail, but something we’ve been searching for a long time.  If you want durable gloss poly, clear film or silver film, contact us to discuss how these new labels fit into your operation.

Guy Mikel

Sunday, September 16, 2018


14er Boulder, the highest quality, most novel and pure cannabis flowers, extractions, and genetics found anywhere in the world.

According to Dan Seidman, Operations with 14er Boulder, “for a long time, we have worked hard to develop and grow the best strains possible, including many different hybrids.”

After visiting 14er’s operation, I can tell you that I was impressed; brand new and very clean operation.  14er has one of the best facilities in the cannabis business that I’ve seen.

When 14er first contacted me a long time ago, they were having issues with a C3500 label printer that was purchased elsewhere.  Although I don’t recall the specific issue, we solved the problem quickly and began selling 14er labels and ink.  We even began producing for them a custom size label for their nitrogen packed cans:

C7500 N2 Label Design
14er Label Design

And it wasn’t long after we started shipping ink and labels, 14er upgraded to a C7500.  According to Dan, “the C7500 is a beast and very important to our operation.  In fact, the C7500 has become a critical part of our operation.  Using Nicelabel, I’ve designed all of our artwork; which makes all of our product labels easy to print.”


And you can purchase a C7500 also here:

 And after purchasing the C7500, we had to change the design of 14er’s labels.  As the C7500 has a ~2” minimum width and 14er places the rolls on an applicator, we had to shift the narrow label to 1 side.  This change enabled the printing and application of a narrower label.

14er N2 Can Labels
14er N2 Can Labels

As a regular reader of this blog, you may remember an earlier post with similar issues around placement of a narrow label on wider liner to apply with an applicator:

14er Product Labels
14er Product Labels
Working with good people like Dan and 14er’s is why I started Color Label Solutions; and makes me happy.  Contact us if we can support your label operations as well.

Guy Mikel

Monday, July 23, 2018

Consumer Vs Label Printers

In this post, we have a guest blogger:  Hannah Gibson.  Hanna is a great new employee for Color Label Solutions; we're lucky to have her on our staff.  Read Hanna's first post next.

My name is Hannah Gibson, a Sales Manager for Color Label Solutions, based in the Seattle area. After working at a label convertor, I came to work at Color Label Solutions to manage label sales. In my conversations with different companies in different industries, I hear frequently “I don’t know anything about label printing”. To me, this situation is great as our mission is to support companies transition to On-Demand Color Label printing.

One question, that I get asked frequently when speaking to newer or smaller companies is “Why should I use a label printer?  I’d rather print from my office/home printer.”

When responding to this question, I provide several reasons why a label printer is a much more efficient choice for any company.

Sheet Vs Roll Labels
Sheet Vs Roll Labels

Let’s start with cost per label, which is a big factor for businesses. I Googled the top selling printer of 2018, which I found was an HP OfficeJet printer, according to Amazon.

HP: Highest Selling Consumer Printer
HP: Highest Selling Consumer Printer

For the HP OfficeJet printer, the yield is 165 pages/tri color cartridge. The cost of a black and tri color cartridge is $42.89. $42.89 divided by 165 is $0.26/page. With 10 labels per sheet, the ink cost per label is $0.026. Assuming the 165 page/cartridge yield was calculated at 15% coverage, the cost per label would be $0.13/label when printing at 80% coverage; 5-fold more.
To learn more about how these ink yields are calculated, read this previous post:

After calculating the ink, I calculated the cost per an actual label.  For this comparison, I used a 4” x 2” Matte Poly sheet label from Avery.

and calculated a cost per actual label of $0.11. Therefore, the ink and a 4 x 2” label combined would cost approximately $0.24.

C7500 Ink Cartridges
C7500 Ink Cartridges

When printing a 4 x2” label with approximately 80% ink coverage using the Epson C7500G, I calculated the ink cost at $0.017/label.  A 4” x 2” Matte poly Label we sell on a roll is $0.042/label, with significant discounts in volume.

Overall, I calculated the cost for ink and material in a consumer printer is at least 24 cents (assuming 80% coverage).  At the same time, the cost for ink and labels using an Epson label printer are less than 6 cents; a savings of 75%.

Sheet Labels
Sheet Labels

In addition to ink and label costs, add the extra waste. Most companies I talk to who are wanting to transition from sheet fed to labels on a roll mention they experience lots of jams, and have a hard time getting the print to line up on the labels, resulting in a lot of waste.  And what if you wanted to print only 4 labels at any one time?  You could waste up to 6 labels.

Another important factor is a printer designed for labels will increase your productivity. The simplest explanation of increase in productivity with a label printer is speed; a label printer is generally faster than your office printer. In addition, your employees will waste less time fixing jams or selecting which labels on a sheet to print. When needing a few labels, you can print the exact number rather than a full sheet of maybe 4-16 labels at time.  Also, rolls of labels enable you to use a label applicator or dispenser to automate more of the process.

Also, label printers give you flexibility in design and automation. With a label printer, graphic designers will have flexibility to create a more professional looking label, which is important for branding. Also, label printers enable the use of label design software such as BarTender, which allow for automating Variable Data printing. 

Besides cost, waste, productivity and design, label printers offer a HUGE difference in durability when compared to a consumer-oriented printer. By most accounts, a typical consumer printer should last 1 to 3 years. But when adding sheets of labels that are oozing adhesives, the printer typically wont hold up very long. A label printer is built for manufacturing environments and will last much longer with heavy use.

As the premier provider for Print on Demand systems, Color Label Solutions can help you transition to printing high resolution, durable labels with a low cost per label. Give us a call today to talk about your label requirements. 

C7500 With Rewind
C7500 With Rewind
Hannah Gibson

Purchase a C7500 here: 

Monday, July 9, 2018

Making Money On-Demand

Recently, I attended a webinar by HP titled, “Cost vs Value; how to monetize digitally printed packaging”.  In this webinar I found HP lays out the reasons for Color Label Solutions to exist: by explaining the benefits and returns for moving to on-demand color labels and packages. 

In addition, HP provides a ROI tool to calculate the potential return on investment for moving to on-demand color, or in their terms, “Packaging Decoration”.  In this post, I’ll summarize the paper; and provide links to download the whitepaper and get the calculator.

Overall, HP states that on-demand color packaging and labeling has 3 key advantages when compared to preprinted:

  • No Plates
  • No Press Setup
  • Easy configuration

These advantages lead to the benefits:
  • More cost-effective printing of small batches
  • Increased agility; by reducing the time to market
  • Increased variation and personalization of labels and packages, in which every item is “one-off”.

The benefits of on-demand color increase the value to the company, both internal and external to customers.  But where does a company find the value to pay for the typical cost per unit increase in using on-demand color labels and packages?

HP offers 4 areas to research inside a company to find returns from moving to on-demand:
  1. Supply Chain- Adding efficiencies
  2. Marketing-Extending customer engagement
  3. Finance-Increasing overall profitability
  4. Business Development-Developing/Testing new market opportunities

#1: In the Supply Chain, HP states moving to on-demand:
  • Reduces warehousing
  • Frees up capital trapped in inventory
  • Allows for fewer materials to be ordered
  • Reduces obsolesces of artwork changes
On-Demand saves money throughout the supply chain.

#2: In Marketing, HP opines that on-demand labels and packages are the final opportunity to convince customers to purchase their products.  In addition, on-demand color labels and packages enable companies to strengthen brands making it easy to set up product versions and localized promotions.  And finally, on-demand color enables brands to invest in promotions and advertising for less than traditional methods.

#3: In Finance, HP says on-demand color offers ways to increase sales and margins; a means to increase overall profitability.  By understanding the ratio of gross dollar margin divided by the current cost of “decorating” (the incremental cost of on-demand) labels and packages, companies can calculate the value or return in the investment.  For most companies, HP says the increased sales required to pay for the increased cost of on-demand is less than 1%.

#4: In Business Development, HP states that on-demand makes it easy to develop:
  • New consumer categories
  • New channels
  • New territories
  • Test markets, special programs, regional customization and tactical e-commerce activities

On-demand enables companies to customize product packaging and labels which is different than traditional channels; making testing of new offers easy to do with limited impact on existing paths to market.

For further information, download this white paper here: 

In the companion RODPI (Return on Packaging Decoration Investments) Excel sheet, HP gives companies the methods to calculate their return on investment in moving to on-demand.  Email HP here, ropdi@hp.comto get this ROI calculator. 

After reviewing this white paper and calculator, I believe current customers of on-demand color tools can find ideas on how to increase their return on this investment.  Further, this white paper gives non-users ideas on how on-demand color labels and packaging will make money for their companies.

With the changes in technologies, on-demand color labels and packages make financial sense for many if not most every company.  Contact us to discuss how on-demand solutions we sell will help your company increase returns and support your areas for growth.

Guy Mikel

Friday, June 29, 2018

July 1st: Are You Ready?

It’s July 1st: Are You Ready?

On July 1, 2018, California’s new regulations governing the packaging and licensing of cannabis begins.
CBPH Issued Universal Cannabis Symbol
CBPH Issued Universal Cannabis Symbol

Although we’re not regulatory experts, we can help with compliance to the packaging and labeling requirements coming to California.  And recently, we’ve had a lot of questions from our customers on these issues.  Let me tell you more about the requirements as we understand them; and how we can help.

First; Child Resistant Packaging is required for all cannabis packaging.  If you need a child resistant package, we offer the MPACK; the first new pharmacy vial since the 50’s. 

18 and 30 Dram MPACK's
18 and 30 Dram MPACK's
 Plus, we have them available in two sizes; 18 dram (3.125” tall x.92” wide) and 30 dram (4” tall x .92” wide).

And most importantly, these packages are certified child resistant:

MPACK Child Resistant Certification
MPACK Child Resistant Certification

Second to Child Resistant, packaging must be tamper evident.  With the MPACK, we recommend labeling over the top/bottom sections where the packaging separates.

Labeled MPACKS
Labeled MPACKS
With the addition of a perforation, separation of the label between the top and bottom is easy to do. 

Tamper Evident Paper Label
Tamper Evident Paper Label
For other types of packages, we have paper labels with a durable adhesive that acts as a tamper evident seal.  Once the adhesive is set, the paper can’t be removed (on most surfaces) without shredding.  If interested, we can send you matte paper labels to test on your packaging.

MPACK's In Color
MPACK's In Color

Third, packages for edibles must be opaque. As seen in the above picture, we have the MPACKS in a variety of colors, with the option of a monochrome image on the package itself. 

Fourth, packages must be resealable; the child resistant “Snaps” on the sides make the MPACK resealable. 

Resealable MPACK
Resealable MPACK

Even with the side snaps, the MPACKS are so easy to open they qualify as Senior Friendly!

MPACK Senior Certification
In addition to the packaging requirements, California has new labeling requirements; both on the “Primary Panel” label and the “Informational Panel” label. On the Primary panel, the label must:

  • Identify the product
  • Provide the THC/CBD content
  • Contain the CBPH Issued Universal Cannabis Symbol
  • Include net weight or volume.

On the Information panel, the label must contain:
  • Manufacturer's name/contact information (website/phone number)
  • Manufacture date
  • Government warning statement
  • Ingredient list
  • Instructions for use
  • Expiration date
  • Unique ID/Batch number

(FYI: I found this page helpful. )

As for the warning statement, I found this paragraph:

For edible products, the label must contain any allergen information, list of artificial food colors, and nutritional information.

If you decide that your labels need to meet Prop 65 requirements, please see this earlier post:

To print the Unique ID, Batch Number, Expiration date, THC content, CBD content, and all other variable data, we recommend BarTender; the leading label design and printing software.  With this software, it’s easy to add information to an established label template at print time or integrate with a database as simple as Excel to pull variable data onto a printed label.

If interested in BarTender, here is the link for a free 30-day trial download.

 And to start, I suggest you watch these three short videos:

Purchase BarTender and software maintenance here:

Overall, we have a child-resistant package, tamper evident labels and software to make printing variable data easy to do.  Plus, we’ll help you design and print the labels you want to use on-demand and in color.  Contact us if we can help you with your new California labels.

Guy Mikel